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Falcons vs Cardinals: 5 questions for The Falcoholic

Getting the perspective of the enemy. Know your enemy.

Kevin C. Cox

Withe the Atlanta Falcons coming to face the Arizona Cardinals, I got into contact with Dave Choate of The Falcoholic, our SB Nation Falcons site.

Dave also wrote about what Cardinals player Falcons fans would like on their team.

Dave also was a guest on out podcast preview.

I answered five questions Dave had for me as well.

Revenge of the Birds: Steven Jackson is a guy we are familiar with out here. He says he is going to play. How likely do you think that will be, how good will he be and is he an upgrade at this point in his career over what Michael Turner was the last couple of seasons? What about Roddy White and his injury?

The Falcoholic: We think he's an upgrade over Michael Turner, but we haven't seen enough of him to really know. Jackson has missed most of the season thus far, and while he looked powerful as a runner and capable as a pass catcher, it was on limited snaps. Against a stout Cardinals front seven with a poor run-blocking line, I'm not going to pencil him in for more than 50 yards on the ground.

Roddy White is definitely out. That leaves the Falcons with Harry Douglas and Darius Johnson as their top two receivers, which is good news for the Cardinals.

ROTB: Matt Ryan had perhaps the worst game of his career against Arizona last season, as he threw five interceptions, but Atlanta still won. How likely is it that he can be harassed into multiple turnovers like last season?

TF: I'd say it's unlikely. Ryan has mastered the art of getting rid of the ball in three seconds or less, enabling him to avoid turnovers and make high percentage throws. He won't have many opportunities to air the ball out, which should limit turnovers. I certainly won't rule out a pick or a fumble along the way--this is a good defense, after all--but I think the odds are against him repeating last year's mistakes.

ROTB: If you take the offense, defense and special teams, where does the team's greatest strength stand right now? Why?

TF: It's the offense, clearly. Even without a reliable ground game, Matt Ryan has been able to get things going with the underrated Harry Douglas, the ever-lasting Tony Gonzalez and the dynamic Jacquizz Rodgers out of the backfield. They're consistently above average.

The defense has been okay, but the lack of a pass rush has been very limiting. The special teams has been great at times and horrible at others, with a pair of lost fumbles on punt returns. The offense is definitely leading the way.

ROTB: Who are the players that Cardinals fans should look out for on both sides of the ball on Sunday?

TF: Young cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford will be key players. Both should be on the field and tasked with stopping talented wide receivers. Both are rookies and both have played very well considering the odds against them, and both are due for turnovers. We hope.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jacquizz Rodgers is dangerous. The Falcons will continue to use him as a receiver in the screen game and out of the backfield, and he has surprising power and agility. It's easy to overlook him because he's about 5'6", but he's a legitimate weapon with the ball in his hands in the open field.

ROTB: Predictions for the game? Who will be the difference makers?

TF: I'm predicting a 27-21 Falcons win, though I've waffled between that and 21-17. I think it'll be a sloppy, defensively-minded type of game all the way around, and the Falcons walk away with a win because of interceptions from safety William Moore and cornerback Desmond Trufant. I think you'll hold the Falcons to their lowest yardage total of the year, as well.